TAMPA, Fla. -- The 10 News Investigators caught up with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn Friday to ask about the city's yellow light intervals, among the shortest in the region.
The shorter-than-recommended times result in more red-light camera (RLC) tickets - up to half of the city's $7.6 million in RLC fines issued last year.
WATCH: INITIAL SHORT YELLOWS INVESTIGATION
READ: SUMMARY OF FEDERAL GUIDELINES IGNORED
But Buckhorn said the city had no role in re-timing yellow intervals; it defers to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). While FDOT typically dictates yellow light times, the mayor's office was provided information Monday that the agency would be willing to extend yellow lights for any city or county that requested it.
"Have DOT call us, not you," he told 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky, "and we'll fix the problem. We'll look at it and if it makes sense and that's what they want us to do, we'll do it."
Buckhorn's administration even acknowledged to 10 News that "we could request to add the .5 second (to yellow times), but ... it's also a domino effect. Change one light, we need to study the surrounding areas to make sure that we're not causing backups." Traffic engineers tell 10 News that's not true.
Buckhorn said he had no plans to request yellow light changes unless FDOT instructs the city to.
In 2011, after the state's RLC bill was passed, FDOT quietly changed its rules for minimum yellow light intervals. State and local engineers then re-timed numerous key intersections, creating more RLC revenue than federal guidelines suggest.
For instance, 10 News showed how the yellow intervals at the intersection of 50th St. and Adamo Dr. (40mph) were only 3.9 seconds. FDOT's Traffic Engineering Manual mandates a 4.0-second yellow, while national standards are closer to 5.0 seconds.
Numerous legislators, council members, and county commissioners came forward after the story aired to promise changes. Both the Hillsborough Commission and Tampa Council told staff to prepare analysis for June meetings.
But the typically-outspoken Buckhorn rebuffed repeated interview requests for more than a week. His staff told 10 News the topic was "an engineering decision...not a local policy decision" and the mayor couldn't make any time available.
The mayor's office also told 10 News that red-light cameras have reduced crashes at key intersections in the city and they knew of no crashes related to yellow lights that would warrant more examination of the timings.
10 NEWS' YELLOW LIGHT INVESTIGATION:
5/16/13 - Tampa council will research short yellows
5/15/13 - Hillsborough Commission wants to review yellow lengths; Tampa mayor does not
5/14/13 - Legislators acting quickly following 10 News investigation
5/13/13 - Florida shortened yellow light lengths, driving up red-light camera revenues
Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.